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Billings superintendent reacts to rise of school lockdowns

Billings West, Career Center locked down Monday morning
Posted at 2:47 PM, Nov 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-21 16:47:45-05

After another school lockdown in Billings - the 10th this year- Superintendent Greg Upham said Monday teachers and students and getting practice in case a real threat emerges.

"I learned how important lockdown drills are, teaching administration and students how to react instinctively," Upham said. "Also, the training we provide through Mark Wall, our safety and security advisor and director. The run, hide, fight information that is out by Safariland, we do that. And frankly what that does is, it talks about immediate notifications so that individuals can decide and act instantaneously."

On Monday morning, a caller made a threat toward Billings West High School and the Career Center. Those threats sent Billings police into action, and both school buildings were immediately placed on lockdown around 7:45 am.

Information led police to a student at Laurel High School. Once that suspect was located, the lockdowns were lifted about an hour later.

The majority of the lockdowns in Billings have happened since the Senior High lockdown last month , when police received a report of a person with a gun near the school- something the district took very seriously. The individual turned out to have been carrying an air gun and was not threatening the school.

During a lockdown, Upham said communication is key, whether it's the principal getting on the speaker and updating students with what is going on or teachers being able to keep students calm. That trickles down to the communication between parents and students, Upham said.

"I strongly encouraged it. It just seems like common sense. If they wanted to talk for the entire two hours, so be it. I mean, you can imagine being a parent on the outside and wondering. But being able to communicate with them and know that everyone is safe sure helps. So we will do some continued debriefs with our students after that, after a situation like that, and continue to just get better." Upham said. "You try to be in a situation where you dismiss the 'I'm a snitch attitude' for 'no, if I see something, I say something.' We can't live in fear and we can't run from this. We prepare and address it appropriately and talk about it."

So far no arrests have been made in connection to the West High School and Career Center threat.